Anime fandom parallel to hip hop: my “normie” perspective

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As indicative of my recent posts pertaining to anime in general rather than individual anime series, my intention is to build a solid knowledge base in anime. Although in part motivated by my novelty to the medium, I’m also genuinely interested in learning about it; I don’t want to just enjoy consuming anime, I want to be able to understand and celebrate the thing I love. And in seeking this holistic understanding of anime, I want to be able to explain and share this passion with others.

Myself prior to getting into anime can be described as a twentysomething student living in the Canadian West Coast who would use the word ‘fam’. I never went as far as using vernacular such as ‘mad ting’, but it wouldn’t have been so out of place among my friends, many of whom are rappers. Speaking of which, I would like to call attention to how prevalent the African American Vernacular English (AAVE)–and the currently emerging Eastern-Canadian/London patois popularized by Drake and BBK–has become in the North American popular culture; hip hop has undeniably been integrated with the American society, growing alongside America since its come up.

While this is sort of obvious, at least when you think about it, what fascinates me is how anime seems to be becoming mainstream as well, in the West. Although my personal subscription of media content is biased, I think noticing anime’s popularity is a reasonable observance, which has been especially noticeable in meme culture. And in my frame of reference, Porter Robinson’s Shelter signaled a groundbreaking assimilation of anime into the popular culture, which cemented my anime fandom that only really started (a month prior) in September of 2016.

A semester (4 months) later, I would be experiencing my first time following an anime season (Winter 2017), which–by the end of this week–I will be finishing 9 of the season’s titles. This number isn’t even including many older series I’ve also been watching and… I found myself asking why, as this is objectively a lot of anime. Well, you could say that I’m obsessed (aka otaku), but probably, this is just a phase. I’m not implying that I’ll stop watching anime–it’s too culturally and nostalgically significant for me–but the time allocated to anime will naturally decrease.

There used to be a time when I would listen to at least one hip hop album a day as I felt inspired by rap and I wanted to learn everything I could about hip hop. I actively researched for ‘classic’ albums that I should listen to if I wanted to understand the culture. And I seriously dove right in: I’ve rapped, produced, DJed, and right now I’m even running a hip hop club at my university. What’s crazy is that this only started (almost exactly) 3 years ago when my friend invited me out to Rappers Without Borders, the aforementioned student club. But even though hip hop has solidified itself as a major element of my life, it doesn’t replace people, relationships, and community–and it’s going to be the same for anime.

In saturating myself with anime for the past 8 months (and I’ve actually yet to be satiated), I feel a satisfying sense of understanding for the current landscape of anime. And in feeling this way, I also realize my separation and differences in perspectives compared to the people who have watching anime for years: my appreciation of the ‘moe’ sub-culture. Before some of you dismiss me–although, really, who cares–what I understand of moe is that it’s very difficult to define it due to how diversely it is being understood and used today. And so, in clarification, when I say moe culture, while still acknowledging moe blob, loli, and CGDCT, I personally enjoy its focus on relational aspects of story telling (although this is slice of life), and the clean, cute, and colourful aesthetics they usually entail. In music genres, moe is the bigroom of EDM (generic), trap of hip hop (over-saturated), pop music in general (good production)–and all of these things are easy to consume.

Now, even if I recognize this, someone like me who actively enjoys moe may be frustrating to many. Although I can try to explain my pickiness within the moe genres, I can certainly sympathize with this frustration: hip hop has ‘youngins’ who only listens to Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, or 21 Savage. No shade against them, it’s just that they represent the currently over-saturated and derivative (mumble rap) trap sub-culture of hip hop. But let me offer this perspective, in prioritizing togetherness, understanding, and celebration of the positives: not that we can even stop art from evolving, new fans of the medium are nonetheless new fans. There’s no reason to discredit them or worry about the medium’s demise, because true fans will always seek out for more, as I am doing.

But I’ll admit: I have not seen all the ‘classics’, and at this point in time, it’s not my priority to watch all of them anytime soon (my MAL has over 100 PTW titles). I’m talking abut Ghost in the Shell (I couldn’t finish it), Your Lie in April, Clannad, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Code Geass, Gurren Lagann, and the list goes so on. While it could be argued that the classics must be watched in order to truly understand the medium, I think having this reference (at this point in time) is relevant in reflection of how newcomers come into the anime fandom.

My perspective, then, is when I came to the fandom that was post-Eva, post-Haruhi, post-NHK, post-K-On!, and post-Shirobako. I came in and enjoyed the likes of New Game! and Gabriel Dropout while also enjoying NGE and NHK. I didn’t hate One Room, I didn’t think the Monogatari series were confusing, I agree with the popular opinion that FMA:B is great, I’m slowly watching Cowboy Bebop… and K-On! is my favourite. Compared to modern anime, I don’t particularly like the character designs of early 2000s like in Clannad. These are just some of the ways to describe my viewing experiences.

In hip hop, there is a fairly vague divide in what we call old school and new school, in which old school is now synonymous with boom-bap (Just Blaze) and G-Funk (Dre). The original 80s sound of hip hop is probably called ‘super old school’ or ’80s hip hop. New school is whatever is new, which is trap right now so I guess the stuff in the middle like early Drake and MBDTF Kanye are… throwbacks? I guess it really depends on who you ask. And if Kanye’s 808 is said to have influenced all following 808 focused productions, K-On! is analogous in having created the CGDCT boom that is still popular today. Or was that Lucky Star (and Man on the Moon: The End of Day)?

In closing, I find it incredibly interesting that hip hop and anime actually amalgamates in some crossroads. Lupe and Logic watches anime (regularly?) and Kanye, at the very least, appreciates anime. And in both cultures, music is a huge part of the medium, which is a big reason for me being involved in the first place–I’ve seen entire anime series just because I liked the OP. I also can’t help but love the intonation of ‘seiyu’ (voice actors) and their dramatic, syllabic delivery of lines reminiscent of rapping.

There’s also vapourwave, which stands at an interesting junction between the two, a genre which is the soundtrack to the meme culture, that has the sampling aspect of hip hop and in which many of these samples are from ’80s Japanese funk records. How did this come to be? I don’t know, but it feels somehow catered to me.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found my frame of references as interesting as I did thinking about it. To read up on other personal perspectives, check out Diary of an Anime Lived.


[Source]

Image is from K-On!

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14 thoughts on “Anime fandom parallel to hip hop: my “normie” perspective

  1. Arria Cross 6 Apr 2017 / 11:54 AM

    Excellent post. As someone who has been watching anime ever since I can remember, anime is a part of my daily life since childhood. That’s why I find it fascinating to learn how more recent anime fans feel and think about it. It seems that for you, you observed some similarities between anime and your love for hip-hop. Unfortunately, I don’t have an experience like that as anime has been a part of my life for so long that it’s difficult to view it with fresh eyes and compare it with another pursuit. Perhaps the closes I could compare it to would be to my love of reading. Anyway, I hope that you keep on watching anime. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • simoku 6 Apr 2017 / 12:30 PM

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m glad you found my perspective interesting. I should mention, though, that I also grew up watching anime, having grown up in Korea. But as I describe in this post, I had stopped watching anime for a number of reasons, and I wouldn’t necessarily have called myself an anime fan back then (because I was watching it by default). Interestingly enough, and as uncomfortable as it was, being separated from anime for a few days back in January had allowed me to look at it again with fresh eyes. Maybe you’ll enjoy reading those stories as well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arria Cross 10 Apr 2017 / 7:16 AM

        You’re welcome! Oh, that’s so interesting. I was born & spent my childhood in the Philippines before moving abroad. We spent our childhood watching anime. It’s just that I don’t think I ever really stopped or separated myself from it. It’s just so much a part of my life. Thanks!

        Like

  2. lealea477 6 Apr 2017 / 2:09 PM

    ^_^ I’m so happy to see you are getting into the swing of things now (your confidence is reflecting in your writing).

    Like

    • simoku 6 Apr 2017 / 7:57 PM

      Yeah! I used to be a pretty big fan when I had just discovered his Young Sinatra mixtapes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simoku 6 Apr 2017 / 8:25 PM

        Oh yeah, I’ve been keeping track 🙂

        Like

  3. Samuru 14 Apr 2017 / 4:22 PM

    I also am a big hip hop fan and anime fan at the same time. Never really looked at the similarities unless there are funny characters that try to mimic hip hop culture in anime (like right now, there’s a DJ hero in My Hero Academia which is pretty funny).

    May I recommend some artists that I listen to. I only listen to Christian Hip Hop but don’t let that fool you, it’s gooooood. Lecrae, Trip Lee, This’l, Beautiful Eulogy, Andy Mineo, KB, Derek Minor, Canon….I can go on and on, but yeah, check some of them out! God bless ya, keep writing.

    Like

    • simoku 15 Apr 2017 / 4:45 PM

      Interesting! You know, even though I’m a follower of Christ, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary Christian music. My biggest complaint is that it sounds incredibly homogeneous. Having said that, though, I think it’s time that I check some of those artists out. Thanks for the comment Samuru 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Samuru 19 Apr 2017 / 3:30 PM

        I am not a fan either of the typical CCM genre either. If a Christian grabs a guitar and makes an album, I probably won’t enjoy it. But….hip hop is another story. Check out those artists or you can head over to http://www.rapzilla.com, it’s the biggest Christian Hip Hop site. There’s tons and tons more artists out there depending on your style. Like Beautiful Eulogy is more lyrical/poetic, while a Lecrae is more hip hop. So yeah, there’s lots.

        Like

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